Belfast International Airport sets sight on 6 million passengers for 2018
An average of 16,000 passengers passed through Belfast International Airport each day in 2017, new figures have shown.
A total of 5.84 million passengers passed through the airport last year - the highest annual figure ever recorded by the airport.
The busiest day at the airport recorded was July 11 with 24,000 passengers, followed by Friday, December 22 at the height of the Christmas rush, when more than 20,000 were recorded.
The annual passenger figure shows an increase of almost 700,000 on the 2016 tally.
For 2018, the airport has said it expects passenger numbers to hit 6 million for the first time.
Belfast International Airport Managing Director, Graham Keddie says the 2017 performance was heartening, and hitting 6 million was realistic target.
He stated: "All the signs from our airlines are positive. There's hundreds of thousands of additional seats on offer to our 76 destinations, which makes Belfast International a more attractive proposition.
"We're also predicting the best year ever for direct in-bound tourism. The more visitors we can attract directly to Northern Ireland, without a stop either in the Republic or in GB, the better for Northern Ireland.
"The pound-euro exchange rate remains favourable, and that means we will continue to see a most welcome increase in the number of passengers from the Republic of Ireland.
"We'll be investing more in 2018 - some £8.8 million - in several capital expenditure programmes, which is obviously good news for local contractor and their supply chain. In line with passenger growth, companies based at the airport will be creating up to 250 new posts, which is great news for the immediate local economy."
Mr Keddie added: "2018 will be hectic. And of course, we will continue the campaign to rid ourselves of Air Passenger Duty (APD). I am asking Antrim and Newtownabbey Council, along with neighbouring councils, to weigh in with strong submissions in response to the Government's consultation on APD which is about to get underway.
Air Passenger Duty is charged on all passengers departing from UK airports, and can add as much as £150 to the price of a long-haul flight of more than 2,000 miles.
APD is charged at £13 for passengers in economy seats on flights of less than 2,000 miles, with a charge of £26 for all other classes.
The charge is not placed on in-bound flights to the UK.
"I'm grateful for the support we've already received in this fight, but I think now's the time to up our game to let Government see that there's broad-based support for action to be taken to end APD, which places Northern Ireland at a clear disadvantage to our neighbours in the Republic of Ireland."
Belfast Telegraph Digital